Best Free and Open Source Media Centers

The majority of Linux distributions come supplied with a wide range of software that lets individuals use their PC to watch movies and television programs, listen to a music collection, and view photos. However, if you are looking for a more harmonious approach, turning your Linux box into a state of the art media center with an integrated easy-to-use interface, media center software will be just the ticket.

In the media center department, Linux has a fairly narrow range to choose from. Fortunately, the software featured in this article ticks all the boxes. We have also chosen to include some distributions which are dedicated media centers, as they significantly simplify the installation process particularly on esoteric hardware. At the heart of each of these distributions is Kodi.

Here’s our recommendations.

Best Free and Open Source Media Centers

To provide an insight into the quality of software that is available, we have compiled a list of 5 impressive free Linux media centers. Hopefully, there will be something of interest here for anyone who wants to turn their Linux computer into a multimedia hub.

OSMC, LibreELEC, and LinHES are, in fact, Linux distributions that are built around Kodi / MythTV. OSMC, and LibreELEC use Kodi as their media centers. LinHES uses MythTV.

Let’s explore the 5 media centers at hand. For each title we have compiled its own portal page, a full description with an in-depth analysis of its features, a screenshot, together with links to relevant resources.

Media Centers
KodiAward-winning, free and open source digital media hub and HTPC
MythTVHome Theatre convergence box
OSMCEmbedded Linux distribution which ships a Kodi front-end
LinHESLinux distribution designed for use on Home Theater PCs
LibreELECLibre Embedded Linux Entertainment Center

There are many media center distributions that have fallen by the wayside. We generally don’t feature discontinued software.

Best Free and Open Source SoftwareRead our complete collection of recommended free and open source software. Our curated compilation covers all categories of software.

The software collection forms part of our series of informative articles for Linux enthusiasts. There are hundreds of in-depth reviews, open source alternatives to proprietary software from large corporations like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, IBM, Cisco, Oracle, and Autodesk.

There are also fun things to try, hardware, free programming books and tutorials, and much more.
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